Insects and other foods the trout
should be eating:
1. BWOs (Little BWOs)
3. Little Winter Stoneflies
Most available/ Other types of food:
4. Sculpin, Minnows (Streamers)
Fishing Tales - The Mighty Shellcracker
The first fishing tale article of this new series, Day Dreaming on a Cold Morning, was about being able to walk
out on the patio of my condo in Panama City Beach, Florida, and catch bass and bream on a fly. Last week's
fishing tale article was about one of my 255 syndicated TV shows about a trip aboard a 55 foot Ocean Yacht
and the 391 pound marlin we caught in less than 5 minutes. Since most of you that keep track of my articles
on fly fishing the Smoky Mountains have probably not had the opportunity to fish for offshore big game
species, I thought I would write a fishing tale about a more common species of fish, the Mighty Shellcracker.
For those of you that like a more technical common name of the fish, it's the Red Ear Sunfish. Even though
you may currently fly fish out of your new Mercedes SUV, with 5 new Orvis bamboo rods in the rod roof rack,
if you were lucky, you probably hooked up with a pretty little Red Ear Sunfish when you were a kid.
This story begins a couple of years ago, well, maybe it was a couple of decades ago, or at least it was within
one decade of a couple of decades ago. One of the twenty-six TV stations that carried my syndicated TV
show covered the Melborne, Orlando and Daytona area of Florida. By the way, that represented one of the
top ten most densely populated areas in the nation back then and probably still does. By the way, at that
time, there were a total of three TV networks on the air, not 200 cable channels you could watch.
One of my sponsors for that market was Brevard Boat Sells of Coco Beach, Florida. George, the owner of the
large dealership, was not only a major sponsor of the show for that station, he kept a few new boats rigged
out for me to do just about any kind of fresh or saltwater fishing I chose to do. The new boat lineup ranged
from a twin engine 28 foot, offshore Mako, down to small Aluminum boats like the one below. During a visit
one day, George insisted that I do a show on fishing for bream and shellcrackers because many of his
customers were small boat, freshwater fishing guys. His dealership location was not only near the Atlantic
Ocean, it was located close to some of the best freshwater rivers and lakes in Florida.
For two years, I responded to his request with a "as soon as I can get to it" reply. After all, I had offshore
fishing trips lined up from New York to the Caribbean, the Gulf of Mexico and Pacific that had been waiting
along with many other sponsors for specific programming. George was a very loyal one though. He not only
kelp boats of my choice rigged out for me to use, he had stuck with me, paying a substantial amount for ads
for the entire five years of my 52 weeks-a-year program.
I walked in the door one day and he said "do a bream show or else, James". I first responded with the "I didn't
know anything about catching bream" thing. He grinned and said, "two of my best customers do and they
want to be on your TV show". I did two shows, one on shellcrackers using open face spinning tackle, and one
the next week using fly rods and popping bugs for bream. He had a different boat rigged for each trip and in
addition, a guest that he claimed was the top shellcracker fisherman in Florida, and another guest he claimed
was the top popping bug bream fisherman in the World. They were both set up to fish with me.
Well, the thousand bucks a week figure George spent on advertising with me ran back and forth
through my head for about a tenth of a second, and guess what - I agreed.
It wasn't that I was too good to fish for the lowly bream. I was wondering what my Big Game fishing
sponsors were going to think about their ads running on the same shows. After all, they ran in all
26 TV markets, or over half of the nation's TV coverage.
Before I go any further, let me say that Mr. Jimmy Blount, my guest and the gentlemen you see in the pictures
below, was everything George had made him out to be. He knew more about catching shellcrackers than
anyone I have met in my lifetime of fishing. We ran down the St. Johns River into and through Lake Poinsett
for miles until he would instruct me to stop on a dime and anchor. We then would each catch a shellcracker
the very first cast. We would catch several nice shellcrackers and he would say, "crank up and move on down
the river a little further". He would explain, "I don't want to catch too many from the same spot because we
may hurt the population". He had been catching shellcrackers from each of the small spots we fished (about
ten feet in diameter in the middle of the river) for years. He had more spots than anyone could fish in a
week's time and every single spot produced several fish. We caught over a hundred putting most of them
back. Keep in mind, I had another boat rigged for the camera crew that had to set up each time we moved.
Jimmy carried a few home with him to eat. He wasn't a guide. He just fished twice a week and had been doing
it for many years. He was incredible. When I would cast two or three feet from where he wanted me to cast,
he would say "reel in and cast where this one lands". He would then cast to show me the exact spot. Before I
could follow up with the cast, he would already have a sheelcracker on. He was as professional as a
fisherman can get. By the way, we were fishing small beds of shells on the bottom of the river.
Copyright 2013 James Marsh
New Schedule of Daily Articles
Mondays: Weather and Stream Conditions
Forecast - Coming Week
Tuesdays: Fly Fishing Strategies - Which
Flies To Use - Coming Week
Wednesday: Fishing Tales
Thursday: Smoky Mountains Fishing Report
Friday: Getting Started
Saturday: Fly Fishing School
Sunday: This Week's Featured Trout Food
Thanks for the memories, Jimmy Blount and George Troset. Check out that new Evinrude!